Building a cheap ESXI server

After having a play with VMware ESXi, I’ve decided to pick it for my virtualisation solution. My ESXi box will be configured as:

  • HP N40L Microserver
  • 2 x 4GB Kingston Non-ECC RAM
  • 8GB Sandisk Cruizer USB thumb drive
  • 5¬†x 2TB Hitachi 7K2000 HDDs
  • HP P410 Storage Array with 512MB cache + battery backup
  • HP NC360T Dual Gigabit NIC (unless I destroy it when I try to make it fit into a x1 slot)
  • VMware ESXi

The aim is to have it configured as follows:
I’ve got pretty much most of the parts that I need, just waiting on the P410¬†Storage Array to turn up before I can build this bad boy.

NoGi (58 Posts)

14 thoughts on “Building a cheap ESXI server”

  1. I’ve been thinking of a sever setup myself but hadn’t considered VMWare.

    It looks like a nice setup. But, unless you game, why you installing WinDowzz?

    1. I had too many problems trying to get XenServer to install onto a USB thumb drive which is why I went with ESXi. Very easy to install and configure. I have Windows as I run a service to collect data from my power monitor for solar that uploads back to There are Linux drivers but I never got it to work. I may try again sometime.

  2. Hello,
    Your blog is interesting… I’m too consider buying N40L but still hesistate because of N40L low CPU performance, what do you think?
    Please can you explain your choice chosing N40L instead to build a tailored mini-server (on a ITX motherboards with a Intel i3-i5 per example)
    By the way, a dedicated raid-controller card which price cost more than the N40L itself, isn’t too much? Can’t we use the build-in Raid-controller instead? (ok lower performance, don’t have all raid types but…)

    1. Hi Charles, I went with the N40L over building my own solution mainly due to power consumption. As for the RAID card, I wanted maximum processing power for ESXi so I decided to offload the RAID stuff to a dedicated card. The P410 allowed me to us the existing drive bays as well. I’m running 2 VMs at the moment which are running fine.

      Building a tailored mini-server is a better option if you are not concerned about how much power it’s using. I’ve got 3 microservers so am trying to keep this consumption to a minimum. So far, the main disadvantage with my setup is the 8Gb RAM limit, ideally, I would have preferred much much more for my VMs.

  3. Helo,
    I’m wondering if I wanna replace those standard ECC RAM, would it be just as easy as picking up one desktop DDR3 (Non-ecc) ? Or I must find a server RAM with non-ECC? IN which, could you please recommend a model/part no. ?

    Many thanks
    from S’pore

      1. Thanks for ur reply..

        I’ve some other HDD questions not sure if you could assist to answer .. thanks in advance.

        1. Is your Hitachi 7K2000 HDD running ‘quiet’ ? I have a friend who is selling 7K3000 so I am wondering if this drive is ok in terms of ‘noise’.

        2. do you think it is possible to mix HDD brands in N40L ? I’ve WD Cavier Green EARS, so i wonder would this Hitachi 7K3000 works fine together with EARS?

        1. Noise is subjective, what’s quiet for me may not be for you. Eitherway, it’s not an issue for me as my servers are in a different room now so I don’t hear them anyway.

          My other 2 microservers are running on 7K3000 drives. The only reason I used the 7K2000 drives is because they were left over from my old NAS otherwise I would have just gone the 3TB drives instead.

          You “could” mix and match the drives but keeping them the same maximises performance and I just don’t like using “green” drives. Some of the WD green drives are an issue in NAS’s as well.

  4. How did the dremel work on the Dual Gigabit NIC? I have two n40l’s and was thinking of doing this also.

Please leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.